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How to scale and gut a fish

Updated on May 17, 2011

1) Using the back of a knife, scrape the scales off, starting at the tail and moving up towards the head. Don't forget to scrape the collar of the fish too - its only tasty sans-scales.

2) Find the vent underneath the fish and stick your knife in enough to break the skin, but no further. Slice up to the jaw.

3) Remove the guts by reaching in and grabbing them right at the base of the head, where you will feel everything connect. Pinch that spot, grip tightly and pull the whole lot out.

4) Scrape out the liver, which is attached to the backbone. Then cut out what remains of the swim bladder, which is a whitish sac that also attaches itself to the cavity.

5) Wash the fish under cold water and check for any missed entrails still hanging on.


  • Scaling a fish outside is preferable unless you want to be cleaning up blood and guts off your ceiling and walls. Also, put all of the entrails into a garbage bag immediately after gutting the fish, as its a hard smells to get rid of.
  • Leaving the gills on will add a bitter flavour to our fish, and will make it spoil faster, so they need to go. You can most easily do this by cutting them where the attach at either end of the arc that they form.
  • Fish with very fine scales like flounder, take a great deal of patience to clean. So take your time, because some people are very sensitive about getting scales in their mouth when eating
  • If the fish you have selected smells overly fishy, than it's not fresh.


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